While mass-market cruise ships just keep getting bigger, boutique cruise lines maintain their smaller ship size while elevating luxury to new heights by adding new ships, updating existing ones and including more and more services and amenities. For those of you who appreciate cruising in luxury, here are some exciting developments available with three of the leading cruise lines.
Touted as the most luxurious cruise ship at sea, the Seven Seas Explorer sets sail in July 2016 and will become the fourth ship in Regent Seven Seas’ fleet. This all-suite, all-balcony ship holds 750 passengers and offers four gourmet restaurants, Gourmet Explorer tours coupled with a culinary arts kitchen for hands-on cooking lessons, and a Canyon Ranch Spa. Exclusive to the Explorer are a variety of suite choices including the new Regent Suite boasting 3875 square feet with two bedrooms, butler service, private car and driver in every port and en-suite spa with unlimited spa services! Who will want to leave their room? All three of their other ships are scheduled for extensive refurbishing during the next 18 months. Regent Seven Seas include most services in their cruise fare – unlimited shore excursions, fine wines and spirits, crew gratuities, airport transfers, WiFi and even airfare in many cases.
Crystal Cruises recently added the luxurious 62-passenger Esprit, making a total of three ocean vessels in their fleet. This super yacht was designed for exploration to smaller ports and off-the-beaten path destinations due to its size. Crystal even expanded into river cruising into 2016.
Seabourn will soon be adding two new all-suite ships beginning this year, rounding out their fleet to five. Unique to this luxury cruise line is their onboard water sports marina and country club casual environment.
Want to learn about all the luxury cruising choices available and need help deciding the best option for you? Jan Acorn can streamline the process for you – call us today for a complimentary 20-minute consultation.
Did you know that you can register your international travel plans with the US Department of State free of charge? Benefits of enrollment include…
- Receive safety information about the countries to which you are traveling
- Help the US Embassy contact you in an emergency involving a natural disaster, civil unrest or family emergency
- Facilitate family and friends getting in touch with you in an emergency
Simply go to https://step.state.gov/step/ and enroll before your next adventure!
Attention all Foodies! Looking for ways to enjoy great cuisine while traveling? Bon Appétit, inspiring food lovers with imaginative culinary delights through magazine recipes for decades, has ventured into the travel arena by partnering with luxury cruise companies, Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises. Cuisine at sea has been elevated to new heights through this innovative partnership. Well-known chefs have been recruited for designated Bon Appétit Tastemaker sailings – not only to lead culinary preparation onboard, but to also offer hands-on cooking classes and host epicurean adventures such as market visits and wine-paired dinners.
Oceania Cruises offers Bon Appétit Tastemaker itineraries ranging from 7 to 35 days throughout the globe, with sailing dates in 2016 and 2017. Enjoy special amenities such as a special wine event, complimentary bottle of wine signed by the designated winemaker for the cruise and a Shipboard Credit to use as you please.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers Bon Appétit Tastemaker experiences onboard a number of their 2016 and 2017 sailings ranging from 7 to 57 days. Their culinary celebrations at sea feature world-class chefs and food-focused itineraries, with special amenities to Bon Appétit Tastemaker guests.
If you enjoy cruising and superior cuisine, then we invite you to learn more about this exciting collaboration. Gateway Destinations owner, Jan Acorn, is honored to be designated as one of Bon Appétit’s 50 Tastemakers nationwide due to her enjoyment of food-focused travel and dedication to creating extraordinary vacation experiences for her clients.
Plan your cash needs for foreign travel and check what the currency rate is before your travels by going to: http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/ (also available as a smartphone app). Other helpful apps include GlobeConvert and World Currency Converter. Your local bank will add a fee so only take enough foreign cash to handle your initial needs. Your best conversion rate is at an ATM machine at your foreign destination.
Watch the beautiful landscape of Europe drift by your window as you glide by quaint villages, castles, and vineyards in your luxurious river ship. Unlike ocean cruising, river ships have an intimate boutique atmosphere and give you quick and easy access to the ports you visits.
Unpack once and enjoy your floating hotel as you immerse yourself in the cultural delights of each region. River ships are well-equipped with many comforts such as multiple dining options, fitness room, massage, live entertainment, and a hot tub or pool. Many ships also carry bicycles on board to do some exploring on your own!
Experience for yourself what river cruising is all about by joining me for a very special journey in celebration of wine for 7 nights beginning October 28, 2016 in Bordeaux, France. Not only will you receive a $500 discount off the normal cruise fare, but you will also enjoy special wine events hosted by Jon Rogers with Wines Without the Mystery. Register by March 31 and also receive FREE pre-paid gratuities! Call Jan Acorn for details at 602-923-1542 – space is limited.
The US Department of State is expecting a record number of passport requests this year – new and renewals. Processing time is currently running about six weeks. Avoid costly expedite fees and submit your renewal in plenty of time. As a reminder, more and more countries are requiring that passport expiration dates be valid for at least six months beyond your ending travel date. You can easily renew online at:
US Department of State
Have you found it more and more difficult to spend quality family time together, especially if some family members live far away? Consider planning a vacation that brings family members together in a fun and enriching way. Experiencing an adventure together or meeting in a relaxing paradise can create unforgettable memories while reconnecting and deepening family bonds.
Lots of exciting destinations make good choices. There are also numerous types of vacations to consider, being careful to choose a vacation that fits your family’s budget, interests and everyone’s availability. Pleasing everyone all of the time may not be possible, but having a variety of activities from which to choose will ensure there is something that appeals to each family member. Planning is key to making it successful and enjoyable for everyone. Here are a few helpful ideas to include in your planning process:
- What dates will work best for everyone?
- Establish a budget and decide who will pay – communicate this to all family members to avoid surprises
- Decide the type of vacation – adventuresome, cultural, physically active, relaxing, learning, etc.
- How much time is expected to spend together and what alone time may be available?
An ocean cruise can be an ideal choice for family travel since there is a wide variety of activities available, as well as cabin types and dining options. Some family members can choose to be very active while others can choose to relax during the day, but everyone can gather again at least for dinner. Choose from luxury ships (like Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas or Paul Gauguin), more mainstream cruise ships (such as Princess or Royal Caribbean) to eco-adventure or sailing ships (such as Lindblad Expeditions or Windstar), and from itineraries all around the world.
A number of tour operators specialize in family travel so you may want to take advantage of itineraries offered by one of these companies… Disney ventured into ocean cruising several years ago but now also offers luxurious land tours on all continents and will soon introduce river cruising in Europe. Tauck, a luxury land tour operator who also offers river cruising in Europe, offers specific itineraries for families including African safaris. Thomson Family Adventures, with roots as a successful safari operator, has specialized in family travel since 1998. Backroads offers premium or luxury bicycling and multi-sport trips throughout the world and offers a number of itineraries geared for families.
Call Gateway Destinations to create unforgettable memories through extraordinary travel for your family, 602-923-1542.
Visa requirements for a country will describe what vaccinations, if any, are required before entry. You can easily find out what vaccinations or medicine are recommended in addition to any minimum requirements for your intended destination by contacting the Center for Disease Control. Go to www.cdc.gov/travel and enter your destination(s). Allow plenty of time before you travel before you travel in case there are timing requirements.
Having long been on my personal bucket list, visiting the mountain gorillas in the Virunga Mountains of Uganda was nothing short of awesome and even better than I anticipated. Observing these intelligent, playful and handsome creatures up close and personal in the wild jungle of Bwindi’s Impenetrable Forest (aptly named for its dense vegetation,) elevated my already-high appreciation of Nature’s beauty and diversity. Expert trackers found the Nkuringo family of 12 early in the day of my journey, which allowed our small group of human trekkers, porters and armed ranger precious time to spend with these magnificent mammals before the onslaught of torrential seasonal rains. Daily permits are issued to a limited number of visitors and for only one hour of visitation in Uganda, Rwanda and the Republic of Congo in order to minimize man’s impact on their natural habitat and way of life. Permit revenue is responsible for curbing poaching as it has become an important source of income for the government and a portion of it goes to support services in the local communities as well.
A short flight from Entebbe to Kisoro in a comfortable small plane was followed by an adventurous 2-hour drive on a rough and rugged mountainous road to the site of Nkuringo Gorilla Camp. This lovely hilltop 3+-star property has 14 clean and very comfortable rooms with ensuite baths, most of which are individual cottages with private decks. Delicious meals are served in the common dining room and panoramic views include the Bwindi Forest, nearby Ugandan villages and Rwanda and Congo. For a luxury experience, nearby Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge boasts very private and spacious cottages, each with their own fireplace.
Visiting the Nkuringo gorilla family of Bwindi National Park requires strenuous trekking on steep mountainsides but it will take you through incredibly beautiful scenery and remote rural villages. The mountain gorillas can also be safely visited in a few other places in Uganda and Rwanda, most requiring less serious hiking. Some families also live in the Republic of Congo but it is still unstable and travel is not recommended in this area. In addition to seeing the gorillas, there is a lot to experience in Nkuringo and Kisoro including endless scenic hikes, dining with a local family, visiting a coffee plantation or local school, riding in a dugout canoe on beautiful Lake Mutunda, trekking to see Golden Monkeys, and learning about the Batwa tribe and their fascinating former way of life as forest dwellers before being relocated from Bwindi when it became a national park.
Uganda has a lot to offer travelers in addition to a life-changing mountain gorilla encounter – breath-taking natural scenery, abundant wildlife including big game safaris such as found in beautiful Kidepo Valley, delicious fresh fruits and vegetables, and happy, welcoming people. Call us for a free consultation to see how you can best explore Uganda’s treasures.
Looking for a quick source for vaccination and medicine advice while traveling abroad? Or, ever wonder what you should not eat in a foreign country? The Center for Disease Control has developed two free useful apps you may want to download on your smartphone: CDC TravWell and CDC, Can I Eat This? Feel well during your vacation!